Senate President Andy Biggs advised a group of East Valley business leaders and fellow legislators that Arizona has a unique opportunity to see economic growth in the coming months and years.
“(Arizona) is geographically located next to a state that intends to drive out its industries and wealthiest people from one of the largest economies in the world,” Biggs said at the East Valley Chamber Alliance Legislative Breakfast held at Intel in Chandler.
He said California’s anti-business talk and actions have heated up conversations between California-based businesses and the state and cities here in Arizona as well as other states.
The Gilbert Republican emphasized that business leaders and all Arizonans need to be positive about the state and everything it has to offer. These California companies are thinking about coming to Arizona, he said, so we should be emphasizing to them everything that is right about the state.
Senator Biggs also told the group the Legislature needs to be conservative in its financial approach next year. Spending carry-over funds and the rainy day fund would be a mistake given the uncertainty over the state’s future financial obligations.
Biggs pointed out that the temporary 1-cent sales tax is going away (May 2013). And the impact on Arizona’s economy of Obamacare and Medicaid obligations make prudence with spending essential next year.
Biggs also said that failure to address sequestration — automatic cuts in the federal budget to defense and other programs — could cause up to a loss of 49,000 jobs in Arizona. He said the state lost 350,000 jobs during the recession and has gained back 90,000 jobs since the bottom.
“This could mean losing half of those (gained) jobs,” he told the group.
Biggs also thanked Sen. Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler, for leading the way on state pension reform.
“He has taken a beating for it but (reform) has to be done because there will be some states that won’t be able to pay for pensions,” Biggs said.
Yarbrough, who along with other legislators also briefly addressed the group, has said that state pension plans are grossly underfunded and not currently sustainable.
Jason Bagley, government affairs manager at Intel, welcomed the group. He reminded them that Intel has invested more than $20 billion in Arizona since the mid 1990s and now has more than 11,000 employees in the state. He said Intel pays $212 million in direct and indirect state and local taxes and has a $2.4 billion annual economic impact for the state. In addition, the contractor base that works with Intel adds another $500 million in annual positive economic impact.
The East Valley Chamber Alliance includes the chambers in Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, Tempe, Apache Junction, Queen Creek and Scottsdale. It uses the annual event to present its joint 2013 legislative priorities to legislators representing those communities.
Angela Creedon, chairman of the East Valley Chamber Alliance, introduced Tom Dorn of the Dorn Policy Group, who addressed the legislators. He encouraged them to support the Alliance’s stances on ballot reform, federal health care implementation, education funding, unemployment benefit reform and tort reform.